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Ken Hall | Gallery Report

Gallery Report: January 2013

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Written by KEN HALL   
Thursday, 27 December 2012 17:02

A full tea service by Reed & Barton in the Francis I pattern, including the hard-to-find tipping kettle, sold for $18,000 at an antiques auction held Nov. 13 by John Moran Antique and Fine Art Auctioneers in Pasadena, Calif. Also, a charming pair of garden statues garnered $13,475; a Mexican School oil painting titled Angel de la Garda changed hands for $4,800; a pair of detailed neo-Rococo candelabra by Belgian silver workshop Wolfers Freres made $3,600; and a lovely Pairpoint lamp went for $3,000. Prices include a 20 percent buyer's premium.

Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 12:20

Gallery Report: December 2012

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Written by KEN HALL   
Monday, 03 December 2012 11:09

A Krupp 5CM Mountain Howitzer, with all-metal carriage and iron-banded and wood-spoke wheels, sold for $34,500 at a Historic Firearms and Early Militaria Auction held Oct. 25-26 by Cowan's Auctions in Cincinnati. Also, a cased Webley Fosbery target revolver rang out at $23,000; a prototype Searle semiautomatic pistol hit the mark for $18,400; a Colt Aircrewman AF-1, presented to Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, brought $28,750; and a first model Henry rifle, second type, changed hands for $21,737. Prices include a 15 percent buyer's premium.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 December 2012 17:44

Celebrity Collector: Actress and supermodel Carol Alt

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Written by Ken Hall   
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 17:04

Supermodel and actress Carol Alt has been collecting Santa-inspired Christmas tree toppers every year since 1989. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Bruch.

NEW YORK - Carol Alt was arguably the first person to earn the title “supermodel,” working almost daily throughout most of the 1980s for her agency, Elite Models, and gracing the cover of hundreds of magazines in the process (including twice for Sports Illustrated’s coveted swimsuit edition). Life Magazine once dubbed her “The Face,” and Playboy proclaimed her “the most beautiful woman in the world.” When her modeling career began to wind down, in the late 1980s, she smoothly transitioned to acting, where she enjoyed success in films and television. Much of that success has been in Europe, where she parlayed her fluency in Italian into a lucrative career.

Carol is a collector of Christmas tree toppers which, as their name implies, sit atop Christmas trees and, in her case, always show depictions of Santa Claus. She has around 30 and has made it a point to buy a topper every year around the holidays – no matter what country she’s in – since 1989. Unfortunately, it was a tragedy that inspired her collection. Her father, Anthony Alt, was a fire chief in New York who died on Christmas in 1983. He had inhaled chemicals in a fire six years earlier and finally succumbed, on Christmas Day.

“Christmas happened to be his favorite day of the year,” Carol said from her office in lower Manhattan, “and for years after that I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate the holidays at all, they made me so sad.” Then, in 1989, with two siblings and their children coming to visit for Christmas, Carol decided it was time to break down and at least buy a tree. “I was out shopping in Scarsdale, just outside New York City, and I saw this adorable Santa tree topper, about six inches tall, in a Christmas shop, and I just fell in love with him, he was so beautiful.”

That topper, which Alt calls “the Scarsdale Santa,” is ornately crafted, with a gorgeous white fluffy beard. “After Christmas I didn’t have the heart to box him up for the next eleven and a half months, so I just put him on permanent display here in my office,” she said with a laugh. “He reminded me of my father in a positive and loving way, and I wanted that feeling year-round, not just at Christmas.” The idea of starting a collection didn’t occur to her until the next year, when another topper caught her fancy in Italy, and a tradition and collection were born.

Carol has purchased Christmas tree toppers in the U.S., Russia (where her longtime boyfriend, Alexei Yashin, is a professional hockey player), Brazil, Italy, France and elsewhere. Some she displays along with the Scarsdale Santa in New York, a few are at her boyfriend’s home, and some are stored away at her primary residence in Canada. “People give me toppers because they know I’m a collector, but it just isn’t the same,” Alt remarked. “The pieces in my collection are very specific. They all carry meaning for me or were bought with a purpose.”

At first, Carol was attracted to pieces for how they looked. But over time, she began buying them more based on the workmanship and how they were made. “It’s amazing how Santa Claus is interpreted in so many different ways as you venture outside the United States, where he’s this luxurious, well-fed guy,” she observed. “In Italy, for example, Santa is known as the ‘Father of the Forest’ and is often shown as a trim figure, carrying a satchel of sticks. In France, he’s ‘Pere Noel,’ a smart and dapper fellow. And Russian Santa toppers often come with feet.”

Alt said she was initially surprised to see how enthusiastically Christmas is celebrated in Russia. “I don’t think I’ve seen another city anywhere that is as beautiful as St. Petersburg at Christmastime,” she said. “It’s just spectacular.” She’s bought Santa toppers there, in Moscow and the city of Yaroslavl (Alexei played there for two years). She’s got around six Russian Santas, made variously of knitted material, wood and glass. One is blue and has an almost Humpty Dumpty look, with his legs crossed. Another is similar looking, only red.

Her Italian Santa is handmade from papier-mache and has a faux fur trim. The Brazilian Santa is made from a cardboard-like material, covered in fabric, and he opens up to hold candies or small gifts for the kids. Alt’s toppers range in size from maybe three inches tall to a staggering four feet – the size of a small tree themselves. “I’ve got four that are that tall and each one seems to have a seasonal theme,” she said. “The winter Santa has white branches and looks snowy, the summer one is pinkish, not red, and Santa is carrying a tree. The fall one has him carrying branches with multi-colored autumn-like leaves.” The four-footers are expensive, she added. One cost $600.

Carol had a scare one year when she was in Africa and didn’t come across a single Santa while she was shooting on location. “It’s not that Christmas and Santa Claus are unheard of in Africa, it’s just that there wasn’t anything where I happened to be,” she said. “Luckily, when I flew to Los Angeles on a little holiday break, I was able to keep the tradition going by picking up a nice topper in Los Angeles.” Another time, in Yaroslavl, the pickings were slim until she happened upon a bin in an Egyptian-themed pyramid store that contained not one but two Santas. “I snapped both of them up,” she said. “I just couldn’t leave the other guy behind.”

This year, Carol will be with her family in New York, where she will be on the lookout for yet another Santa tree topper. “Like the others, it’s going to have to move me, make me happy and remind me of my father,” she said. “Those are my criteria. If it doesn’t meet all three, I continue the search.” She admits she’s gifted away a few of her Santas over the years, to near and dear friends, but the remaining examples represent the best of the best – the most unique renderings of a jolly fat man who not only embodies the biggest holiday of the year, but reminds Carol – in a good way – of her late father. And that’s the joy of Christmas.

Carol Alt was born on Dec. 1, 1960, in Flushing, N.Y., on Long Island, and grew up in nearby East Williston, the third of four children born to Anthony Alt and Muriel Alt, herself a model (and airline employee). After high school she enrolled at Hofstra University in New York, but her college career was short-lived. While waiting tables to earn money in her freshman year, she was spotted by a talent scout who encouraged her to try modeling. She left for New York City at age 19 to do just that and very quickly found herself on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. From there her success just snowballed.

During the 1980s, Alt appeared on over 500 magazine covers, becoming one of the very top models of the decade. She showed an entrepreneurial gift by being the first model to produce her own posters and calendars. And she became the face of numerous ad campaigns, for Diet Pepsi, General Motors, Cover Girl Cosmetics, Noxzema, Hanes and many others. Her acting career gained traction at first in Europe (primarily Italy), where she has appeared in over 45 films, and later the U.S., where she scored roles in Howard Stern’s Private Parts and, recently, as Alec Baldwin’s wife in the Woody Allen film To Rome With Love.

In other acting credits, Alt played Karen Oldham in the acclaimed small-screen adaptation of Peter Benchley’s Amazon (1999); did a series with wrestling star Hulk Hogan called Thunder in Paradise (1994); appeared in Vendetta, co-starring Eric Roberts, Burt Young and Eli Wallach; and had a turn in a film adaptation of the classic tale Anna Karenina. She also appeared in an episode of the popular television show Wings, had a voice-over role in an episode of King of the Hill, and was spoofed in the Family Guy episode titled The Man With Two Brians.

Fans of the Donald Trump series The Celebrity Apprentice will remember Carol from when she was a contestant in 2008, competing for her charity, the Tony Alt Memorial Foundation, which raises money for student scholarships. There was a public outcry when she was “fired” by The Donald, but it should be noted she was the first woman to make it to the end by winning both of her tasks. She was later enlisted by CNN host Piers Morgan for the final task, ultimately helping him become the Celebrity Apprentice (and raising $40,000 for her charity in the process, the second highest amount of the competition).

In 2004, Alt authored a book discussing her various health-related issues and how she overcame them with the help of a raw foods diet, which she adheres to today. That book was titled Eating in the Raw and it was followed by two more -- an “un-cookbook” titled The Raw 50, and a recent volume titled Easy Sexy Raw. She also helped develop an all-natural skin care line called Raw Essentials, which is sold in stores and through TV infomercials. In addition, she has a line of jewelry called True Harmony, available at major retailers. In her spare time, Carol likes to ride horses, play golf and basketball, sing and drive race cars. She once drove a Ferrari 185 mph at the Mugello race track in Italy.

Fans of Carol Alt can learn more about the star by logging on to

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Supermodel and actress Carol Alt has been collecting Santa-inspired Christmas tree toppers every year since 1989. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Bruch.

Papa del Bosco' ('Father of the Forest') Santa, made of papier-mache and purchased at the Vertecci Christmas shop in Rome.

'Pere Noel' (Father Christmas) Santa, with painstakingly and individually curled beard, carrying a bird cage, purchased in Paris.

Woodsy-looking Santa purchased in Milan, Italy; 1ft tall and carrying a wreath made of sticks and twigs and a bundle of evergreen.

This was Carol's very first Santa tree topper, purchased in 1989 in Scarsdale, N.Y. He's very well appointed, with green and red velvet coat and trim.

Santa made of pine cones for the body, with a cork nose and burlap hat and sack, purchased in Yaroslavl, Russia.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 17:53

Gallery Report: November 2012

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Written by KEN HALL   
Friday, 02 November 2012 09:42

A handcrafted Baccarat full-lead crystal 48-light chandelier sold for $98,400 at an estates auction held Oct. 6-7 by New Orleans Auction Galleries. Also, a bronze by Dame Elisabeth Frink, R.A. (1930-1993), titled Chinese Horse II, brought $73,800; a seven-piece Reed & Barton sterling silver coffee and tea set hammered for $49,200; an 18k white gold, diamond, sapphire and South Seas pearl dog collar necklace fetched $19,680; and an earthenware dish by Pablo Picasso made $19,680. Prices include a 23 percent buyer's premium.

Last Updated on Monday, 03 December 2012 11:44

Celebrity Collector: Butch Patrick, a k a Eddie Munster

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Written by KEN HALL   
Friday, 26 October 2012 14:56

Butch wasn't originally cast as Eddie (another child actor, Happy Derman, was in the pilot). But in the end he landed the role.

Butch Patrick is forever cemented in the minds of baby boomers everywhere as the child actor who played Eddie Munster on the hit ‘60s television series The Munsters (1964-66). Those familiar with the show will be surprised to learn it only ran for two seasons, at around the same time another monster-themed program, The Addams Family, also aired. The Munsters featured a wonderful ensemble cast, with veteran screen actress Yvonne DeCarlo and Fred Gwynne (from TV’s Car 54, Where Are You?) in the lead roles as Herman and Lily Munster.

Al Lewis, who was also on Car 54, played the lovable Grandpa, while Pat Priest and Beverley Owen split time as Marilyn, the “normal” Munster. Butch, of course, played Eddie, Herman and Lily’s son, who had a dragon for a pet and often had his favorite stuffed animal in tow – a werewolf he called Woof-Woof. The sit-com was a spoof loosely based on Universal Studios’ movie monsters, but for whatever reason it never enjoyed high ratings (perhaps because it was in black and white). It grew legs later on, in syndication, and even spawned a movie.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Butch has collected (or has been given) monster-related items over the years, but he also has a fair amount of Beatles memorabilia and one-of-a-kind artifacts specific to his generation. His favorite item of all, he says, is a sketch by the artist Chuck Jones, of the iconic cartoon figure Road Runner, drawn on the set of the 1968 movie The Phantom Tollbooth (in which Patrick starred; Jones produced and directed the film). “It probably took Chuck less than five minutes to draw that sketch, but I prize it above everything else,” he said.

The fascination with the Beatles began, as it did with many young people of the time, with the group’s debut performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, in February 1964. “Naturally I went out and bought all their records and started a collection that way,” he recalled, “then a friend in Las Vegas who had a huge and serious collection of Beatles items approached me, asking if I wanted to buy it. There were nearly 500 items in that collection, and he wanted $30,000, but how could I say no?” Over time, Patrick has sold or given away over half of what he bought, but there are still plenty of items there to make Beatles fans take notice.

He owns not one, but two copies of the famous “butcher” cover of the Beatles’ Yesterday and Today album (one peeled, one unpeeled), three animation cels from the film Yellow Submarine, gold records for George Harrison’s song Cloud Nine (off the Dark Horse album) and Paul McCartney’s solo album Red Rose Speedway, large and small photographic portraits of each Beatle by the renowned photographer Richard Avedon, George Harrison’s purple boots, a Yellow Submarine original movie poster, Beatles Christmas tree ornaments by Hallmark, and assorted buttons, Beatles bags and other memorabilia.

Believe it or not, there is a Munsters-Beatles connection, one that Butch was not witness to, sad to say. It was around the time the Beatles were to play in one of the local arenas, possibly the Hollywood Bowl, and there were always security issues to consider, lest the lads be torn to shreds by adoring fans. One day, they were brought to the Universal set and parked there for part of a day. “One of them, I’m not sure who, used my dressing room, because it was nice and big,” Patrick said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t on set that day, and nobody got me any autographs.”

The monster items include an array of bobble-head dolls, Herman and Lily in a special Barbie set (yes, there was such a thing), figurines, autographed photos of people like ghoulish rocker Alice Cooper and Addams Family star John Astin, a collectible Munster Village set made by the Bradford Exchange, a Lost in Space robot, and a veritable mountain of T-shirts (Patrick is partners with a friend in a T-shirt venture called Universal Monsters. He also sells hand-drawn, one-of a kind T-shirts on the website, which he operates).

Other items Patrick owns include a soccer ball signed by all the members of the 1969 World Cup champions Santos Football Club of Brazil (to include soccer legend Pele), a bobble-head doll signed by the late entertainer Anna Nicole Smith, some signed baseballs (Patrick’s late stepfather was Ken Hunt, who played professional baseball for the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels in the early 1960s and was Mickey Mantle’s roommate for a brief while), an exact replica of the bottle from the ‘60s sit-com I Dream of Jeannie, and other items.

“I’ve given away so many things over the years, I really should have much more than I do,” Patrick said wistfully. He’s sold off some items, too – like the original Woof-Woof, which he hung from a noose in the bedroom of his house until the doll became tattered and degraded. He sold it to someone who restored it and sold it. It’s changed hands again since then. He also sold the tour bus used by the rock group The Grateful Dead (a 1965 ½ Gillig Brothers model, complete with posters on the inside walls, of dates from the Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore West). “I paid $10,000 for the bus and poured another $15,000 into fixing it up,” he said. “I ended up selling it for $25,000, so I barely broke even. Now I wish I still had it.”

Butch Patrick was born Patrick Capels on Aug. 2, 1953, but took the last name of Lilley from his adoptive parents not long after being born. He was given the nickname Butch as a young child, and everyone called him that, so his talent agent in 1960 suggested he go by the name Butch Patrick. His first role came in the 1961 comedy-fantasy film Two Little Bears, co-starring Eddie Albert (Green Acres) and Jane Wyatt (Father Knows Best). Before being cast as Eddie Munster, he appeared on shows such as Bonanza, Ben Casey, General Hospital, The Real McCoys and My Favorite Martian. Later on he had a recurring role on My Three Sons.

Patrick credits his sister for getting him into show business, explaining, “She was the one who got me started and gave me all the encouragement. She always wanted to be an actress and was on the casting call sheet one day. She was asked if there were any other children at home. She told them about me and I got some small roles, then some bigger ones.” It wasn’t so easy when it came to auditioning for The Munsters. He was up against 500 other kids. In fact, he wasn’t cast for the pilot episode. The part went to another actor, Happy Derman, but he played Eddie bratty, and in the end it was decided Eddie should be more of a nice, regular boy. It helped that Butch’s eye teeth stuck out and really did look like fangs, and that he was so short. “They liked that because it played off of Herman’s height,” he said.

After The Munsters ended, Patrick found work on popular TV shows like Gunsmoke, I Dream of Jeannie, The Monkees (the famous holiday episode, where The Monkees teach Butch the real meaning of Christmas – watchable on YouTube), Daniel Boone and Adam-12. He also appeared in Disney movies such as Way Down Cellar, The Young Loner and The One and Only, Genuine Original Family Band. A big break came when he landed the lead role on the Saturday morning kid’s show Lidsville (1971-73). He played Mark, a boy lost in a strange land of walking, talking, singing hats. The show was created by Sid and Marty Krofft (H. R. Pufnstuf).

In the mid-1970s, Patrick left acting to pursue a career in music, learning the bass guitar and playing in a group called Eddie and the Monsters. In 1983 he recorded the song Whatever Happened to Eddie? The accompanying video got some airplay and was an inspiration for the MTV series The Basement Tapes, a showcase for unsigned bands. In the ‘80s Patrick also appeared as himself in an episode of The Simpsons (1989) and as grown-up Eddie in a Little Caesars pizza commercial. He was also in the film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003).

Today, Patrick continues to act and play music, and is always booked solid for Halloween parties and other monster-themed events. He is friends with Louise Harrison, the late Beatle George’s sister, and is active in her charity Help Keep Music Alive, which benefits music programs in schools that have had to cut back due to the recession. He also keeps busy with and Universal Monsters and in 2010 he rode his motorcycle in Carthage, N.Y., as part of a benefit for the blind. Patrick was ranked #45 on VH1’s list of “The Greatest Kid Stars.”

Fans of Butch Patrick may visit the star online at

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Butch wasn't originally cast as Eddie (another child actor, Happy Derman, was in the pilot). But in the end he landed the role.

The Munsters were always being placed into improbable situations, like this family trip to Marineland.

Talk about the ultimate Munsters collectible! The Munsters coach was built by George Barris and is on display in his Hollywood shop today.

Patrick actually owned his stuffed animal 'Woof-Woof' for years, but he sold it to someone who restored it.

Patrick has an exact replica of the bottle from 'I Dream of Jeannie.' He appeared once on the show.

Patrick's extensive collection of Beatles items includes pins, figures, gold records and posters.

His most prized possession of all is this sketch of 'Road Runner,' drawn by Chuck Jones and inscribed to Butch.

Today, Butch Patrick continues to act and make music. He's always booked solid for Halloween and runs the website

Toy robot from the TV show 'Lost in Space.' Patrick is friends with Billy Mumy, who was a child actor on the show.

Individual figures of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Patrick watched the Beatles on 'The Ed Sullivan Show,' along with millions of other Americans.

Stylized rendering of the Beatles by an unknown artist. Patrick also has two copies of the famous “butcher” album.

Patrick's accumulation of Beatles memorabilia got a huge boost when he bought a friend's collection – for $30,000!

Beatles hair spray?! The Fab Four were so marketable, their name and likeness appeared on a myriad of products.

Butch poses with some hats that he owns, while wearing a wolfman T-shirt. He is part owner of a T-shirt company called Universal Monsters.

Lunchbox from the Saturday morning kids' TV show 'Lidsville,' on which Butch starred. The show ran from 1971-73.

Butch takes the wheel in costume as Eddie Munster. His eye teeth were naturally fanged, which helped him get the part.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 17:06
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